Symbol Group Special: XL
XL stores have wenjoye a steady period of growth, as Colm Fitzsimons, business development manager, explains...
10 August 2017 | 0
Symbol group: XL
HQ: BWG Foods UC, BWG House, Greenhills Road, Tallaght, Dublin 24
Distribution network: 20 Value Centres nationwide, and chill distribution
Number of stores: 240+
Colours: Blue, green and silver
Tagline: “A great deal more at your local store”
Average store size: 110sq m
Wholesale partner: Value Centre
XL offers retailers the opportunity to retain their independence and local identity, while benefitting from the many advantages of symbol group membership. So says Colm Fitzsimons, business development manager at XL.
“XL offers a flexible, market-leading package,” he says, “which enables retailers to tailor their shop to consumer needs, and also to react quickly to changing market conditions in order to grow their business.
“XL’s affordable fit-out cost is one of the many attractions,” he adds, “with access to competitively priced products and innovative offerings via BWG Foods being another major advantage.”
As part of the BWG Group, one of the many benefits retailers avail of is a vast and diverse supply network, in particular the company’s National Distribution Centre in Dublin. “XL retailers also benefit from the largest network of Value Centre wholesale cash and carry stores in the country,” says Fitzsimons.
“With 20 Value Centres across the country, every XL retailer is never far from one, and has the full support of that branch.”
Value Centres are well-known for providing superior customer service (as we learned first-hand in last month’s edition of ShelfLife). The fact that they are locally based means they can offer friendly and expert advice. There has been continual investment in the Value Centre branch network over recent years and, BWG has stated there are plans for further investment in the coming years.
In terms of the reflexive nature of the relationship between the company and its retailers, Fitzsimons points out that XL has one of the biggest teams, with 40 sales reps on the road. “Our sales team is very focused on customer service,” says Fitzsimons. “Many of them have long-standing relationships with their customers, and so feedback from those individuals is very important to us.”
XL also has a team of dedicated business development managers, whose task is to help keep the XL business on track by continuously working with retailers to review store performance, ensure the shop layout is working and that sales opportunities are being maximised.
“We have a number of events throughout the calendar year whereby we present on ideas and seek feedback,” says Fitzsimons, “including the National XL Forum which took place in April of this year.”
As with the other symbol groups within the BWG Group, XL retailers are set to reap the benefits of the new Shoplink system, a feature-rich e-commerce solution that combines technologies to make life easier for retailers across the country.
“Retailers can use Shoplink to place orders 24-7,” says Fitzsimons, “or to review the full BWG product range, choose from promotions, avail of deals and more.”
In addition, Shoplink is fully integrated with the EPOS system in each store and the BWG warehouses. This allows retailers to monitor their own sales and purchase history when making orders through the Shoplink system.
“In short, Shoplink brings together BWG’s category management services and the promotional offers available to retailers, making it easier than ever to have the right range available at all times for their shoppers,” Fitzsimons says.
In terms of the challenges being faced by the industry in Ireland currently, and what moves XL is making to meet those challenges head-on, Fitzsimons says that competition within the industry is very tough. “This is something we have become accustomed to,” he says, “and I believe we compete very well.
“The main challenge facing the entire industry today is the uncertainly of what Brexit will bring,” he says, echoing his counterparts among other groups. “Apart from affecting prices, it is also predicted to bring with it a reduction in tourism. This will cause a ripple effect across the whole industry. As the fastest-growing convenience brand in the Irish market and celebrating our 20th birthday, we feel like we are currently in a strong position but we will deal with the challenges of Brexit as they reveal themselves.”